NDP, Libs, BQ say no Mulroney testimony on Afghan detainees without documents

After hearing his "professionalism" questioned by former subordinate Richard Colvin last week, David Mulroney sent a letter to the House of Commons Special Committee on the Mission in Afghanistan offering to testify to "set the record straight." That's no light offer from Mulroney as his current job is Ambassador to China. Mulroney, in fact, was en route, my sources tell me, from Beijing to Ottawa late Monday night in expectation that he would get a chance to testify on Thursday.

Not so fast.

Opposition MPs tabled a notice of motion late tonight that will get voted on when the Committee meets Wednesday (a meeting at which they'll hear testimony from Gen. Rick Hillier and others).  The motion is from NDP MP Paul Dewar but I'm told the Liberals were ready to table one that was mighty similar and, basically, it tells the government that Mulroney ain't testifying until the committee gets a pile of documents that they've been asking for for ages.

"The issue is simple – we've now asked for documents, and [Defence Minister Peter] Mackay has promised them. A proper inquiry is not "he said she said'. It's about understanding what happened in 2006-2007," said Liberal MP and committee member Bob Rae.  "The committee is master of its timetable."

"We have concerns about having Mr. Mulroney appear in front of the committee before we've had a chance to look at the information promised by [Defence Minister Peter] MacKay in Question Period today (briefing notes of the minister in 2006-2007 on detainees), in order to ask the relevant questions," said Jean-François Del Torchio, a Liberal spokesman. "The government has changed its story so many time that their attempt to move this quickly is suspicious. This is another example of the government failing to be transparent.

Dimitri Soudas, the prime minister's chief spokesman, accused the opposition of playing political games. "If the opposition were serious about finding answers they would allow Mr. Mulroney to appear before the Committee."

Here's Dewar's motion, which will have the support of a majority of MPs on the Afghanistan Committeee




That the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan requests the following documents prior to the appearance of Mr. David Mulroney:

 All documents referred to in the Affidavit of Richard Colvin, dated October 5, 2009;

 All documents within the Department of Foreign Affairs written in response to the documents referred to in the Affidavit of Richard Colvin, dated October 5, 2009;

 All memoranda for information or memoranda for decision sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs concerning detainees from December 18, 2005 to the present;

 All documents produced pursuant to the orders of the Federal Court in Amnesty International and British Columbia Civil Liberties Association v. Chief of the Defence Staff for the Canadian Forces, Minister of National Defence and Attorney General of Canada;

 All documents produced to the Military Police Complaints Commission in the Afghanistan Public Interest Hearings;

 All annual human rights reports by the Department of Foreign Affairs on Afghanistan.

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5 thoughts on “NDP, Libs, BQ say no Mulroney testimony on Afghan detainees without documents”

  1. Of course the opposition is not interested in hearing from Mulroney because their ability to pratice wedge politics would be compromised. Much of the documentation that the committee probably wants to see is of national security interest so I suspect the government is not going to share it with the committee. Perhaps if the opposition said specifically what they want to see then maybe a compromise would be reached. However, the government is not going to allow a fishing expedition.

  2. Since Mr. Colvin was allowed a public platform to make his allegations, I really don't see why the Canadian Ambassador to China is not afforded the same privilege in order to repair whatever damage there is to his reputation.
    This business about the documents is simply a red herring, and the whole point of the exercise is to embarrass the Government in the lead up to the PM's trip to China, and if possible to embarrass him further while he is there.
    I don't think this is an issue that moves the average Canadian – If you don't believe me, try reading the comments to some of the detainee stories in the media. Yesterday, CTV shut down the comments on the detainee story after a mere 56, presumably because the response was so overwhelmingly one-sided. If the opposition parties continue to press this story, particularly during the PM's trip to China, in an attempt to scuttle any success he might achieve, I think public opinion may well rebound against them. Canadians are well aware of the importance of this trip to the Canadian economy, and the opposition might be smart to remember that.

  3. To Hollinm: I think it is the Conservatives that are playing politics with this. See Kady O'Maliey's article for more information/examples. (http://www.cbc.ca/politics/insidepolitics/2009/11/david-mulroney-and-the-afghanistan-committee-remembrance-of-surprise-witnesses-past.html).
    To David Akin: Do you know what “level of security clearance” federal politicians have? How about members on the “House of Commons Special Committee on the Mission in Afghanistan”? What about people in the Government cocus in general and Ministers of various portfolios?
    Thank you

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